Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 5 July 1918
5. VII. 18
Dear Mr Payne,
I seem to be always writing letters in my spare time but find it difficult to get through my list of those to whom I should write, while the number I send away is far in excess of those I receive. Possibly a considerable amount of correspondence goes astray, which is not to be wondered at when one sees the tremendous amount of organization required to keep up communications in a country almost devoid of roads and railways.
I have not received any letters from home for nearly two months but I have been told that there are some on the way and I am hoping that there may be one from you giving me some news of school of which I have heard nothing since the receipt of the January magazine.
During the past few weeks I have been in hospital, or to use the military term “dock”, but am pleased to be convalescent now and should not be surprised if I am returned to duty during the next few days. I have had an attack of dysentery, fortunately very slight, so that my period in hospital has given me a good rest. Needless to say I am not anxious to go back to the line just yet as the heat there is almost intolerable, while here in Alexandria the sea breezes have a tempering effect upon the weather.
While in the line we have had some very anxious moments and there has been some fine work put in by the battery. “Johnny Turk” is not a foe to be despised but we find that the climate is a greater enemy, which soon affects adversely even the strongest.
Work in the line is dreadfully monotonous, all days being the same, even Sundays. Padres are scarce in our neighbourhood and church parades are almost unknown. In fact we have had only one parade since we left home, but in order that Sunday should be specially marked a few of us have managed to meet together for prayer & Bible reading each Sunday which has proved a considerable help. On such occasions one is forcibly reminded of our Lord’s words, “When two or three are gathered together in my name etc” especially as our little meetings are often carried on to the accompaniment of the guns which are seldom quiet, while one never knows where or when the next shell in coming from the enemy’s lines.
In Alexandria there are plenty of facilities for attendance at Holy Communion & ordinary services, and of course arrangements are made in the camps & hospitals. Last Sunday I was able to attend the evening service at St Mark’s and to be able to take part once again in our beautiful Church Service, in an English church and with an English congregation was a privilege & joy which words fail to describe. It was “Home & home”.
I have not had the opportunity to visit many places of Biblical interest, but I hope I shall be able to visit Jerusalem & neighbourhood before I come back. Unfortunately my sickness will postpone my leave of seven days, which was due this month, so that I shall probably have to wait until the remainder of the battery have taken theirs. This would have meant a trip to Cairo but I do not think I have much cause to grumble as I am having a fairly good time at the Convalescent Depot.
It might interest you to learn how much the work of the Red Cross Society is appreciated here by both wounded and sick. The journey from the line to the base hospital takes several days and covers between four and five hundred miles. this is done in stages; and on the train & in the “stationary” hospitals there is a supply of all kinds of comforts, trifling in themselves, but which mean so much to the men suffering from wounds or disease. If people at home could only see the relief which is afforded by the Society, as well as the pleasure, I feel sure that their pockets would be opened to give it all the support possible.
I trust the work at school is going on satisfactorily, so far as circumstances will permit. I imagine the Staff must be severely handicapped in a variety of ways owing to the abnormal conditions but if difficulties can be overcome I feel that the ladies at Stanhope Rd will accomplish it.
Please remember me to the children, who are constantly in my thoughts & prayers, while I am looking forward to the time when I may “build” & not “destroy” in my old workshop. Tell them that the soldiers want their prayers and that several daddies have told me that they find it a great help to think that their boys and girls send out a daily prayer for them.
I saw a notice some time ago that Mr Mannering had sailed for B.W.A. and I trust that he arrived safely.
With kindest regards to yourself & Mrs Payne & trusting you are keeping well during what must be an exceptionally arduous time for you.